Atypical Season 3 saw Elsa (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Doug (Michael Rapaport) come back from the brink of divorce and Casey (Brigette Lundy-Paine) dive into a whole new romantic situation, but the relationship we worried about most while watching the new episodes was actually the one between Sam (Keir Gilchrist) and Zahid (Nik Dodani).
The two Techtropolis bros started out as close as ever, with Zahid giving Sam excellent advice about how to survive his first year of college. Then Zahid met a girl, and his obsession with her actually caused the two amigos to become "unhomied." It was devastating for Sam to lose his closest confidant, especially as he experienced new milestones like having sex with Paige (Jenna Boyd). And without Sam, Zahid was left unhinged, as there was no one to reign in his crazier ideas.
Luckily, Sam is nothing if not loyal. When it looked like Zahid was going to jeopardize his nursing school career for the sake of his girl, Sam stepped in, stopped their elopement, and made sure that his No. 1 dude made it to his final exam in time. The homies not only reconciled but began making plans to move in together, which will take shape if the series is renewed for Season 4.
TV Guide spoke to Gilchrist about what Season 3 says about the importance of Sam and Zahid's friendship, Sam's other trials, and where he hopes the character goes from here.
A lot of this season was about Sam's relationship with Zahid and really cementing what that friendship meant to him. What was it like for you to really get to explore that with Nik Dodani and have that be the big crux of Sam's emotional journey of the season?
Keir Gilchrist: I love getting to explore that with Nik. I mean, he's an old friend of mine. We knew each other long before we actually shot the series, and we did another movie [The Good Neighbor] together as well. So when I started reading the scripts I was just so excited to really get into Zahid and Sam's friendship because I think it's something that people love about the show, and it's such a great friendship.
There's this weird idea that people with autism can only be friends with people with autism. There's some weird stigma about it... I'm friends with people with autism and I love when neurotypicals and people on the spectrum can get close and find common ground.
How does this season set them up to be roommates, now that they really found out what they mean to each other?
Gilchrist: I think them as roommates is going to be insane. I mean, I don't have too much say in that. Obviously, that's up to Robia [Rashid, showrunner] and the other writers, but I think it's going to get pretty hectic when they get into a roommate situation, in a good way. I think they're going to tear it up.
Sam and Paige were tested this season. How do you feel their relationship stands at the end of Season 3?
Gilchrist: I think Sam and Paige are stronger than everybody [at the] end of Season 3, and that's actually something I didn't expect when I started reading the scripts. I did not expect them to work out the way that they have, but I think they're a very strong couple. Paige and Sam are both people that are not easy to be with, but they somehow just click.
Do you think he's stoked that she's back from college and maybe staying around, or do you think he kind of enjoyed that he had some space while she was away?
Gilchrist: I don't know Sam necessarily enjoyed Paige being away, but I think he was totally fine with the whole idea of a long-distance relationship. Now that she's back, it actually causes more problems because I think Sam was pretty comfortable with the idea of her being on a Skype or a FaceTime instead.
Sam's obviously in support of Casey's relationship with Izzie, but does he have any feelings about the fact that like Evan might not be around as much?
Gilchrist: I think Sam's upset that Evan's going to be out of his life. He gets really close to him and I think, again, wants him to be his new Zahid, but I think he'll get over it. I think it's one of those lessons that all of us learn. Sometimes you get close to somebody and they date your sibling or your best friend or your cousin or whatever, and they sort of come into your life and out of your life.
Knowing that the executive producers have final say, what would you like to explore with Sam if you get a Season 4?
Gilchrist: I mean, I love the idea of [Zahid] and Sam living together. I love the idea of also just Sam not living at home, because Sam's still reliant on Elsa and so reliant on Casey as well. I think just seeing Sam have to deal with that, being completely not in his parents' house, is going to be super interesting. Then, having to probably rely on Zahid, and Zahid having to learn to deal with Sam's quirks.
Atypical Seasons 1-3 are now streaming on Netflix.